Wednesday, March 6, 2013

John 15:17-20 Love, Hate, and Protection

We left off, last time, saying that there was a reason for loving one another, today.  And there is.

John 15:17-18 (KJV)  These things I command you, that ye love one another.  18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

That’s quite a contrast.  Think about the implications of that contrast.  They’re physical, mental, and spiritual.  Think about Luke 11:23a, “He that is not with me is against me:”.  Let’s look at the whole picture.

Going back a few verses, Jesus spoke of giving one’s life for another as a sign of love.  We know that referred to His impending journey to the Cross.  But, when you combine that with verse 17, there’s a really interesting picture.  Jesus gives us Himself as an example, laying down His life.  We know that He took away the results of sin, allowing us to be with Him eternally in heaven.  But there’s another angle that doesn’t get mentioned much.  His course of action, His love, protected us.  From the world, the flesh, and the devil.

When we think of Jesus as our example and recognize how His love gave us a covering, then something amazing emerges for our modern day life.  Jesus isn’t physically here, any longer.  But He and His love are in us.  When we share that love with each other, it protects us from those same things. 

At this point, some of you may be wondering, “What about the martyrs?”.  We’ll get to that.  But, first, we have to realize a couple of things.  Most of us are never going to experience being tortured or killed for our faith.  Remember Luke 11:23.  That can be about a physical or spiritual battle, but it can also be as subtle as leaving God out of the equation, focusing on pleasant living here instead of eternity.  But, if there is a real, full blown attack on us, the realization of His love is what will deliver us in the turmoil, without necessarily having to deliver us out of it.

John 15:19 (KJV)  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
That verse gives a devastating indictment.  Consider a solid relationship with God.  When things don’t seem to go so well, God covers that, by either smoothing over our perception of the situation or fixing it.  Either way, we get a front row seat to watch God doing something where we gain the benefit.  In contrast, the rest of the world doesn’t have that.  There’s something missing from the rest of human existence – experience of God’s love.
Let me give an example of what I’m talking about.  We’ve all watched the various award shows.  Somebody wins an award for something, gets on stage, thanks a long list of people, and then goes off stage.  The entertainment industry is just a little more blatant about it than the rest of humanity.  The front men, the singers, the actors, some of the politicians, and some of the megachurch pastors get their affirmation from the audiences, the nominations and the awards. 
The award winners may be showing real appreciation for the rest of the people involved in a project, but ít’s also a way to look humble.  Suppose someone is left off that laundry list of thank you’s?  Would we be surprised if they were hurt or upset?  That’s the closest the world gets to giving them affirmation.  Think about what happens when someone on the job does great things, but there’s no acknowledgement or change in pay.  No matter what’s happening in someone’s life, it’s what they do, how they look, how others respond to them, how much wealth they have, etc. that become their affirmation of their value.  Or at least their sense of value.

Then there’s the follower of Christ, whose value and worth come from being a child of God.  There’s no need for affirmation from external sources.  That’s already there, from God.  So the believer walks around exuding the joy of the Lord.  The world can’t understand it.  Not needing a consistent flow of praise is alien to them.  Just ask the psychologists who keep pushing that kids shouldn’t experience negative results because failing, occasionally, will supposedly give them a poor self image.  It won’t affirm their sense of worth.

Job is an awesome example of the reality of true self worth.  He started out praising God for everything he had and was.  The devil didn’t like that much, so God used Job as an example of how relating to Him was all the affirmation we need.  Job went through some pretty hefty trials, including being misrepresented by his own friends.  And there was one trial that Job failed.  God had to give him six shots at that one, before Job got it right.  His sense of self worth, or lack of it, didn’t come from his failures.  It came from trying till he succeeded and it came from not losing his relationship with God during the failures.

John 15:20 (KJV)  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

The world hasn’t understood God’s love and how it was demonstrated.  It’s not going to understand our love for their souls.  Yes, there are those who torture and kill what they don’t understand.  Most of us aren’t going to experience anything that drastic.  It’ll be more like being left out of certain social circles and events.  But we can be certain that it’ll be there.  Because, the world can’t stand a joyful believer while they moan over a lack of recognition.  That’s clearly noted in the next four verses, which we’ll get to, next time.

That all sounds awfully negative, but it doesn’t have to be.  We’re here not to create negativity, but to show a better way.  A way that, to some degree we’re already experiencing.  And it’s so great, we’re willing to share it because we don’t lose any of it by giving it away!  Now, how’s that for spectacular?

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